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👍 Using ChatGPT & AI in your Language Classroom 💡

Mar Clavijo
September 14, 2023

We’re living in a brave new world. ChatGPT was just released last fall, and it has brought some new challenges for us as language teachers.

Student’s are using it to write essays and, in some cases, outright cheat on assignments 😨

So we cannot help thinking: Is AI solely a burden on us, a smart cheating assistant for students?

In this article we're sharing 4 key points that we and other language teachers have found to help us navigate this brave new world:

  • Understanding what ChatGPT is and how it works 🤖
  • Forming an initial AI policy for your classroom 🧩
  • Prompts for using ChatGPT in your Language class 💡
  • Creating controlled AI learning activities 👍

Let’s dive in!

ChatGPT and language students

Understanding what ChatGPT is and how it works 🤖

As teachers, we know how difficult it is to explain something we don't understand in the first place. We need a clear definition to help us get it, and at the same time, one we can share with students.So I'm just sharing the simplest explanation I came up with to understand what's ChatGPT about. Here’s what I say to my students:Imagine Siri or Alexa, but even smarter when it comes to language. ChatGPT is like having a super-smart computer friend. It lives up to its name, so you literally chat with it.It's powered by a fancy technology called Artificial Intelligence. This means it can understand what you're saying and respond to you, almost like a real person.Interesting thing about ChatGPT is that it doesn't “know” things in the same way we do. It doesn't have feelings or experiences, and it hasn't learned from going to school, like us. Instead, it's been trained on tons of information from the internet, books, and many other sources. You can ask ChatGPT all sorts of questions or even tell it a story. It will use its super brain to come up with answers that make sense. However, keep in mind that not everything it says is always right, so it's good to double-check this information with teachers, parents and other places.Feel free to use this explanation with your students!Next thing we found is that we also need the right approach when using ChatGPT and AI in our language classroom. That approach is: specific escenarios in a controlled environment.In order to turn all the challenges brought by ChatGPT in our favor, we need some kind of AI policy. That's the next thing we're gonna talk about.

Forming an initial AI policy for your classroom 🧩

There is a reference point we can use to help us think about how to form an AI policy in our classroom. That is the introduction of calculators and math education. The technology behind ChatGPT is called Large Language models. They are to language education what a calculator is to learning math. So when we look to understand what policies we put in place in our classroom, we can look at what has worked well in math classes and assessments.Here are a few ideas:

Show your work 📝

Just like in math class, where we had to show each step of our problem-solving process. It's critical to foster a similar approach in language learning with AI tools.Ask students to write down their thought process when using ChatGPT for an assignment. What are the steps they took?This will help them to understand the process and it also deters them from merely copying generated answers. 

Assessments during class time 🧪

We don't want students to overly rely on AI tools. So how can we ensure students are using their own knowledge and skills?Timed in-class assessments can be a strategy for that.Be clear and specific about when and how they can use ChatGPT. It's a resource for checking their work or generating ideas. Remind them it's not a means to complete the entire task. This keeps a balanced and trustworthy assessment environment. 

Cutting Corners Impact ⚠️

Communicate to students on the potential downsides of over-relying on AI assistance. Make emphasis on the importance of developing their skills and understanding. ChatGPT can be helpful for learning, but cutting corners can hinder both their learning journey and personal growth. Encourage students to use AI as a supplement to their studies and to nurture authentic learning and skill development. 

Now that we know how to create some rules on AI usage, we're ready to start using ChatGPT in class!At this point, we just need the right prompts to make the most out of this tool. Because without them, we're only gonna get ourselves and our students frustrated. We've collected a number of the best prompts. Here you go. 

Prompts for using ChatGPT in your Language Class💡

These prompts will help you make the most out of this teaching technology. They've been divided into 3 categories: ChatGPT for content creation, as a grading assistant and for giving feedback to students.

1. ChatGPT for content creation

🔤 Prompts for generating word lists. ​​These ones cover a range of topics and proficiency levels. Tailor the word lists to your specific teaching needs:

  • "Create a list of 10 intermediate French words for my high school students."
  • "I'm teaching a lesson on expressing emotions in Portuguese. Can you provide me with a list of 15 most common sentences?"
  • "Give me a list of 12 Spanish words related to food and cooking."
  • "I want to enhance my students' vocabulary. Please generate a list of 10 synonyms in English for 'happy’.”
  • "I need a list of 10 common Japanese greetings and expressions"
  • "Please provide me with 15 idiomatic expressions in Chinese for my advanced language learners."

❓ Prompts for devising multiple-choice questions. Align them with the content of your world languages class. Here are some examples:

  • "Create a multiple-choice question about Spanish grammar, including three answer choices."
  • "Please provide a question in Japanese related to travel phrases, with three answer choices."
  • "I'm teaching Russian, and I need a question about Cyrillic alphabet, with four answer options."
  • "Generate a multiple-choice question about common expressions in Arabic, including three possible answers."
  • "I need a multiple-choice question related to Hindi grammar, with three answer choices."

📚 Prompts for developing lesson content. What about these creative ideas for lesson planning?

  • "Generate a lesson on German history and famous figures. Include discussion questions and reading materials."
  • "I'm teaching Japanese. Please outline a lesson about traditional Japanese festivals, with relevant vocabulary and a project idea."
  • "Create a lesson about Indian cuisine, including recipes, cooking vocabulary, and a cooking demonstration activity."
  • "Develop a lesson on Russian literature, focusing on a famous author or work. Include discussion questions and reading recommendations."
  • "I'm teaching Korean. Please outline a lesson on modern Korean pop culture, including music, movies, and fashion."

🎭 Prompts for crafting comparative activities (like this colleague here). Use these prompts to promoting cultural awareness and developing world quotient:

  • "I need a comparative activity for Hindi, comparing Indian and Western classical music. Include audio clips and discussion points."
  • "Generate a comparative task for Portuguese, comparing the dialects spoken in Portugal and Brazil. Provide sample sentences and pronunciation tips."
  • "Craft a comparative activity for Chinese, comparing traditional and modern Chinese architecture. Include images and descriptive prompts."
  • "Create a comparative activity for Spanish, comparing the cultures of Spain and Mexico. Include key similarities and differences."
  • "Develop a comparative exercise for French, contrasting daily routines in France and Canada. Provide vocabulary and sentence prompts."

2. ChatGPT as a grading assistant 💯

You can ask ChatGPT to grade essays, oral presentations, pronunciation assessments, translation exercises and students’ responses.Use the following prompts for the different kinds of language assignments mentioned above:

  • "Evaluate this student's essay on Spanish history. Provide feedback on grammar, structure, and content."
  • "Assess the pronunciation in this audio recording of a French conversation. Highlight any errors and suggest improvements."
  • "Grade these written dialogues in German for accuracy and fluency. Offer comments on vocabulary usage."
  • "Review this student's Chinese character compositions. Check for stroke order and suggest corrections."
  • "Assess the grammar and sentence structure in these Japanese paragraphs. Identify common mistakes and provide explanations."
  • "Evaluate the coherence and organization in these Russian essays. Offer feedback on paragraph transitions and clarity."
  • "Grade these Arabic language exercises for spelling and word usage. Point out any vocabulary errors."
  • "Analyze the pronunciation in these Portuguese oral presentations. Highlight any mispronunciations and suggest corrections."
  • "Review these Korean essays on a cultural topic. Provide feedback on cultural insights and language usage."
  • "Assess the accuracy of these Hindi sentence translations. Identify grammatical errors and suggest improvements."

3. ChatGPT for giving feedback to students 📢

Ask ChatGPT to correct grammar and check pronunciation. To enhance the interaction, consider using this Google Chrome plugin. It allows voice control and text-to-speech functionalities for a more engaging experience.Here are some prompts to get ChatGPT providing students with constructive feedback:

  • "Please review this student's French paragraph and provide feedback on grammar and vocabulary."
  • "Evaluate this audio recording of a Spanish conversation and highlight areas for pronunciation improvement."
  • "Check this German essay for sentence structure and coherence. Offer suggestions for improvement."
  • "Review these Korean essays on a cultural topic. Offer feedback on cultural insights and language usage."
  • "Assess the grammar and vocabulary usage in these Russian sentences. Give explanations for any errors."
  • "Provide feedback on the accuracy of this Chinese character composition and suggest corrections."
  • "Evaluate the Arabic language exercises for correct spelling and word usage. Point out any vocabulary mistakes."
  • "Review this Japanese written dialogue for naturalness and fluency. Identify areas that need improvement."

Last but not least, we need a safe space to help us apply the best approach for using AI and ChatGPT in our language classroom.

Using Speakable for Controlled AI Learning Activities 👍

Like ChatGPT, Speakable uses a Large Language Model. The key difference between the two is how it’s used.ChatGPT is an open chat experience. Students can either use it for learning or cheating and it's difficult for teachers to monitor.Speakable leverages large language models for specific learning assignments - where you, language teacher, are always in charge.Here’s how you can use Speakable for creating controlled AI learning activities:

  • Our Respond Cards use speech recognition to give students instant feedback. All while keeping their data secure.
  • The AI Card Creator generates cards with pictures for students to read, listen to, and repeat.
  • The AI Grading Assistant is a tool that checks students' spoken answers based on their language skills. It also gives them helpful advice on improvement.

All in all...

In a nutshell, ChatGPT serves as a super-smart computer friend. It can help with learning, answer questions and hold conversations.It's a fantastic tool, but it might not always give the right answers. So let’s remind students to double-check with other sources and people to make sure the information is accurate.While ChatGPT is a handy digital assistant, Speakable is all about organized and safe learning. It's designed for specific learning activities that language teachers can control.

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